By Anonymous A
It sucks to be a virgin in this country. I don’t know what it’s like to be a virgin in other countries, but I imagine that with the influence of Hollywood and the Internet, the way sex is depicted, the “virgin” label is pretty undesirable if not humiliating past a certain age.
I was a virgin until I was 25. Not aberrantly late, but late enough for me to ahem and cough my way through more than one conversation about sex. I was neither experienced nor inexperienced, but I didn’t have as much to talk about or rave about or complain about as I would have wanted to. Even more true, for someone my age.
I grew up a nice girl, highly sexual I think, and quite repressed. I remember my first sexual fantasy. I was in kindergarten, and I liked this boy named Dennis. We had a closet in our classroom and I used to imagine us kissing passionately in that little space. I’d been exposed early to sex because of my mother. She wasn’t able to afford babysitters, and she had unwittingly taken me to unrated movies in which she never saw the sex scenes coming.
I’m not saying the movies encouraged my sensuality early exactly, but they allowed me to see what adults did with their passions.
The problem was that I was a romantic, and with low self-esteem. I didn’t start dating until college when my skinny frame started to fill out, and I began to feel more womanly. By then I’d already had two decades to build up fantasies of how and when intercourse would be realized: with passion, with tenderness, and with someone I loved. I didn’t need to be married, but it needed to feel “right.”
So I dated a series of guys, and none of them stuck. I chose slippery men over more solid men, elusive men that I somehow expected to deliver emotional intimacy and maybe even commitment. I was programmed to be a good girl and to want permanence, and yet on an unconscious level I wasn’t ready to be that woman. Looking back, my confusion was clear; I wanted to be good and I wanted to be bad and in the end I didn’t know what I wanted.
And then at 24 I got into a relationship. He was a savvy investment banker, and at the time we met, an Ivy League business school student. He was it, I thought, because he had all the qualities I lacked: confidence, worldliness, outward success.
But the banker was hollow inside. He was often callous and cruel. Here I was, in a committed relationship with an attractive but abrasive man. Something was holding me back. His emotional emptiness made it hard for me to want to give myself to him. As if my body closed up.
I told him for months that I wasn’t ready for sex, and he insisted I satisfy him in other ways. He waited with some patience and understanding, but continued to remind me that sex would bring us to a new level in our relationship. I wasn’t entirely convinced. Finally, giving blow jobs became such a chore that six months later (or 25 years later, depending on how you look at it) I decided to just get it over with.
My first time was actually quite sweet and tender. It was painful, and there was little physical pleasure, but I still remember the way he hugged me and thanked me afterward. Our relationship was quite wonderful in those final few weeks before he left for his summer internship overseas. I felt kind of giddy for the first time in our relationship.
Then summer came, and things changed. I couldn’t reach him for a couple of weekends. When he came back in the fall there was more sex and simultaneously more distance. I was confused. Christmas came and he started talking about marriage and babies. I was more confused. New Year’s came and he joined my parents for dinner. By the second week of January we were finished and by the third week, he was with the woman he would eventually marry.
No. It wasn’t me.
In the years following my break-up with the banker I juggled therapy, a new pledge to work on being single and content, and a couple more casual “relationships.” There was the man I ran into at a community fundraiser, with whom I danced almost ten years earlier at a college party. He didn’t remember me, but the chemistry was instant and I went home with him on our first date. At the time, I was 27, working out, and at my peak physically. It was a thrill to be wanted for my body and for me to use it to seek pleasure. I felt the opposite of virginal. I was exhilarated by the power of my sexuality, by the freedom and the confidence. Many times I credited my relationship with the banker for releasing me from girlhood.
And then there was the man 30 years my senior, my boss. I was resigning from my job and on my last day, a hug turned into a kiss and the kiss turned into an affair. I used to meet him in the conference room each day after he was done with work. I began lying to family and friends about my whereabouts, and I was increasingly distracted, driving around town in circles, missing parking spots and exits, having trouble concentrating in conversations.
I felt bold and powerful. But I also felt cheap. I had no future in mind for this tryst, no satisfaction except for the fleeting and empty thrill of no longer being good. Sex used to have meaning. It never used to be about power. I ended it, and I ended this futile pursuit to be someone I wasn’t.
A year later I met the man who helped me believe again – not just in love but in myself. At 32, for the first time, I made love. We’d been dating for just two weeks, but it didn’t matter. I already knew I was going to spend the rest of my life with him. I didn’t have to think. I didn’t have to weigh the pros and cons. I didn’t worry about the aftermath. The decision came from my body as much as my heart. I felt cherished, I felt valued, I felt equal, I felt sexual, and I felt safe. I’d finally accepted myself and because of this, I was able to see the right man, a good man, to let him know me, and not let him go.
© Anonymous A
Part 4 in a series on first sexual experiences.
You May Also Enjoy